Manchester United mustered the narrowest of 1-0 wins over West Ham United in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford, with a fantastic first-half header from Marcus Rashford, the only difference between the two sides. The Hammers threw everything but the kitchen sink at United late in the game, but some superb goalkeeping from David de Gea earned the points.
Erik ten Hag made four changes to the side that beat Sheriff in midweek, with Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Anthony Elanga and Marcus Rashford all returning to the starting lineup. Tyrell Malacia and Alejandro Garnacho were made to settle for spots on the bench, with Victor Lindelöf and the on-form Antony ill and injured respectively.
United started well, but neither goalkeeper was tested in the game’s opening quarter-of-an-hour. Cristiano Ronaldo forced a simple save from Łukasz Fabiański with a dipping effort from distance, while Marcus Rashford watched a deflected effort loop over the crossbar with the keeper rooted to the spot.
West Ham grew into the game, with Saïd Benrahma looking particularly dangerous up top. Thilo Kehrer weaved his way into the United box just short of the half-hour, though the flag went up as Jarrod Bowen received possession and lashed a powerful shot straight at David de Gea.
The Hammers’ threat proved fleeting, and before long United were back on top. They were rewarded with a brilliant opening goal just over five minutes before halftime, when a teasing cross from Christian Eriksen was met at the back post by a Ronaldoesque bullet from Rashford, which left Fabiański with no chance.
The second half got off to a slow start, but United sprung to life on the hour. Ronaldo twice squandered chances to double the hosts’ lead, first heading wide on a Shaw cross and then lashing a hurried shot into the side-netting from an angle.
United’s failure to score a second soon invited pressure. The introduction of Michail Antonio sharpened the Hammers’ attack, and he drew a save from de Gea with a thunderbolt from distance. Moments later, a Kurt Zouma header was brilliantly scooped from under the bar by the Spaniard, as United clung onto their slender lead.
By then, ten Hag had made the unequivocal decision to shut up shop, with Anthony Elanga withdrawn for Scott McTominay, and Eriksen for Fred. The latter almost wrapped the game up in the final five minutes, but his unmarked header bounced back off the post with West Ham’s substitute keeper Alphonse Areola rooted to the spot.
There was still time for two last-gasp West Ham chances, with a Bowen shot blocked by Maguire before Declan Rice drew a fantastic stop from de Gea with a curling effort from distance. Through a mixture of superb goalkeeping and fine last-ditch defending, the Reds clung on to record an important win.